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Eric Bunnell's People: Candidate approved to seek Tory nod in ELM

Caught by surprise

Caught by surprise

Sunday, his party said no decisions had been taken in a search to replace veteran Elgin–Middlesex–London Tory MPP Jeff Yurek following his surprise resignation last Friday.


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Two days later, they obviously had. Notice of a Zoom nomination meeting was emailed to local provincial PCs.

Tories are to name their candidate for the coming Ontario election on Tuesday next.

The notice also advised one candidate already had been approved to seek the nod. He is Dorchester businessman Rob Flack, who stood for the federal Conservatives in London West in the last general election, placing second after the right-wing People’s Party split the conservative vote.

Potential contenders have by 5 p.m. Friday to be approved, but local riding president Bill Fehr on Thursday morning was expecting an acclamation.

Rob has an extensive CV of community involvement, and Bill says he’s been asked frequently to run.

“The party has asked him regularly when we were looking for a candidate over the past 20 years.”

Although Premier Doug Ford has said no byelection will be called for Elgin–Middlesex–London when Jeff’s resignation takes effect at the end of next month, Bill says the party is moving swiftly to name a candidate, out of caution how the pandemic may affect the June 2 campaign.

“We want to make sure we have someone in place.”

Bill says Jeff’s announcement last Friday caught the party unaware.

“It sort of caught us flatfooted when Jeff resigned. I was surprised.”

‘Great tours and activities’

Well. That’s one week down … and who knows how many more to go in this current lockdown? Some days, doesn’t it seem like Groundhog Day all over again. And it’s still just January!

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Megan Pickersgill comes to the rescue.

She’s the always upbeat Railway City Tourism. And as we wonder whether there’s anything to see and do around our town as we wait out the current coronavirus wave, she affirms in an email, “Absolutely!”

“There are many great tours and activities that can be done safely outside year-round.

“I’ve linked to some ideas below, but generally there are many trails that are maintained year-round.

“A mural tour of the city is a great way to explore and experience something new as well.

“Of course the views from the St. Thomas Elevated Park are spectacular, no matter the season!”

Her suggestions:

And there you have it!

Lost in the snow

A few winters ago, the National Post ran a regular photo feature of forlorn mittens lost in the snow. (Maybe it was a gentle reminder it’s always a good idea to string lefts and rights together with a length of yarn?)

Walking the other day through Pinafore Park, we came across a sad single glove sitting all by itself on a bench along the trail to Lake Margaret.

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Until then, I hadn’t been seeing so many mittens around these days, but there sure had been a lot of masks!

Donor generosity

A drum roll … and the email, please!

The total is in for donations to Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario from spectators who took in the 2021 lights at the Port Stanley home of Dennis Taylor and Raymie Jewell.

They contributed $6,759 to the cause, boosting the total raised since a collection began in 2010, to $105,716.53.

Raymie Jewell attaches a star celebrating donations this season to Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario from spectators who took holiday lights at Port Stanley home she shares with Dennis Taylor. (Contributed) jpg, WD

Donor generosity also generated 200 pounds of food for Port Stanley’s food bank.

While gifts of money and food were down from some other years thanks to the pandemic, Raymie notes that “every little bit helps.”

The money raised this season is enough to grant a wish to a seriously ill child.

And, Raymie adds, “Thankfully, we were still able to bring some joy to our community.”

Though the couple hasn’t been able to invite viewers to tour their backyard out of coronavirus concerns, Raymie says they remain hopeful, and those lights and figurines remain on standby.

“We have people come to the door and send inquiries through co-workers that they are interested in buying stuff. We aren’t ready to pack it in yet.”

Still Standing

Still in Port, folks tested the tubes and warmed up the Philco to tune into Wednesday’s episode of CBC’s small-town celebration, Still Standing.

Host Jonny Harris – who hails, himself, from small-town Newfoundland – visited the village last summer. And in a standup routine that closed his time in town, he saluted Port and its character as a resilient community that offers fine dining and theatre on one side of Kettle Creek, along with beach-side frolic on the other.

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“Port is the perfect name.

“You’re a bit like port – high in alcohol but fancy.”

The reviews are in on Facebook.

“Great show, showcased our village in such a beautiful way,” Paula Miziolek posted to the Port Stanley Happenings page.

“Great show, well done, everyone!!!” Jim Smillie commented.

“Best place to live, for sure!!!”

Meredith Goodwin notes that anyone who missed the show can click to CBC’s Gem.

Indeed, the Municipality of Central Elgin shares that link:

Snowy owl sightings

Another sighting of that snowy owl in the Courthouse neighbourhood.

Brent Sifton shares: “Friday afternoon about 3 p.m. I had just returned from a cemetery in Blenheim, and was backing our car into the funeral home garage.

“As I was doing so, I saw something large swoop by and thought it might have flown into the garage. I got out, saw nothing inside, then walked outside and looked into my mother’s backyard. It had landed on the fence post, and was facing away from me.

“At first I thought it might be a hawk or eagle, but the head was too large. It then took off westerly and had a large wingspan.

“Later that afternoon, I came home and read your mention of a snowy owl sighting in the courthouse ‘hood.’ I then realized that had to be what I saw. I pulled up a Googled photo on my phone, and it mirrored a strong resemblance.”

Brent made sure to tell eight-year-old grandson Wynne, who also lives in the neighbourhood, to keep an eye out. Sighting a snowy owl is supposed to bring good luck.

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“I am hoping the snowy owl sighting brought me some luck … could have used some last year. I fell off a stepladder in our driveway changing a motion detector light bulb.”

Brent was on crutches for three months.

Bee dazzled

Brent notes a family connection to the house that is home to Wynne and folks Matt and Laura

“In 1932, Mr. and Mrs. Scarlett established the first nursery school in St. Thomas in that house. Guess where my Dad, born in 1928, went to nursery school before going to Grade 1 at Wellington? Yes, that house.”

Before the family moved in, previous residents had to be evicted.

“Fifty-thousand honey bees were discovered living between the outside brick and the wall of our grandson’s bedroom-to-be.

“Mike Wood came to their rescue and the bees were removed by him and relocated to his hives.” (Mike is Knotty Coppertop honey, Union, mentioned just last week in this corner.)

“Our grandson even got to be part of the process as they were docile, and he did a cute little video.”

Stay well!

This Week in Flyers